For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961)

For Whom the Bell

by Ernest Hemingway (1899
- 1961)

Type of Work:

Romantic war novel


Spain; 1937

Principal Characters

Robert Jordan, an American fighting with

Spanish Loyalists

Maria, Jordan's lover

Anselmo, Jordan's elderly guerilla guide

Pablo, a drunken guerilla leader

Pilar, Pablo's strong and commanding wife

El Sordo, another guerilla leader

Rafael, a gypsy member of Pablo's band

Story Overveiw

Robert Jordan, the young American, could
think of nothing but the bridge as he and his seasoned guide Anselmo hiked
through the mountains behind Fascist lines. Golz, one of many Russians
also working for the Loyalist forces in their civil war with the Fascists
for control of Spain, explained the importance ot Jordan's mission. Golz
was organizing a major offensive against the enemy. To protect is troops
from reinforcements sent up after the attack commenced, Golz needed the
strategic bridge destroyed: "[Do it] as soon as the attack has started
and not before. I must know that bridge is gone."

Jordan and Anselmo worked their way u p
the mountains where the bridge was located. The plan was for Jordan to
make contact with a guerilla band led by Pablo and his devoted, fierce,
and swarthy wife, Pilar. After taking a few days to examine the bridge
and organize the attack, he would wait for the proper moment to blow it

Though he had destroyed other bridges,
and trains as well, Jordan was apprehensive about this mission. He felt
even worse when he made contact with Pablo's band. The guerilla leader
was surly and insecure; he demanded to know what Jordan intended to do:

"If it is in this territory, it is my business." Jordan quickly changed
the subject.

That night Jordan stayed at the guerrilla's
cave hideout with Pitar, Rafael the gypsy, six other guerrillas, and Maria,
a young girl who had been rescued from the Fascists. Jordan asked Pilar
if more guerrillas could be rounded up for the attack on the heavily guarded
bridge. She said that she would enlist the help of a band of six or seven
mountain men, led by the reclusive but proficient El Sordo. However, the
attack would be very dangerous, and afterwards the entire band would have
to abandon their mountain camps.

Pablo was drunk earlier than usual that
evening. He criticized Jordan's plans and told everyone in the cave that
the mission would fail. But Pilar stepped in and ushered Jordan outside
for a breath of air. The gypsy, Rafael, quickly followed. "Three or four
times we waited for you to kill him. Pablo has no friends," Rafael declared.

Although the idea of killing Pablo had in fact flashed across Jordan's
mind, he had restrained himself: "For a stranger to kill where he must
work with the people afterwards is very bad."

For weeks all of Jordan's thoughts had
centered on his mission. Now, however, all throughout the evening's tension-filled
dinner, it was not Pablo or the bridge that occupied his mind, but Maria.

The two flirted, sneaking glances and sly touches back and forth. Later,
when Jordan bedded down outside beneath the stars - along with the dynamite,
which no one wanted in the cave - Maria came to him, torn between hope
and reluctance. Among the Fascists she had been subjected to starvation,
torture and rape, and she believed that no one could love a defiled woman.

But Jordan persuaded her to slide into his sleeping bag next to him, and
they became lovers. And Jordan, who had lived until then mainly for the
ceremony of risking his life, now knew that, though he would still fight
for the cause, he no longer wished to court death; he wanted to live -
for Maria.

The next day, Pilar, Jordan and Maria paid
a visit to El Sordo's camp. Along the way Pilar spoke of how the war had
begun in her native village. Pablo had led the attack on the local , "civilia
guardia," trapped in their barracks. After killing the soldiers, Pablo
and his rebels gathered Fascist party members into the town hall. There,
one by one, they were forced to run through a gauntlet formed by the townspeople,
who beat them with shovels and rakes. To Robert Jordan, it was a horrible,
disgusting story.

At the camp, El Sordo agreed to help with
the mission to blow up the bridge, and assured that he could secure horses
for the ensuing was snowing heavily when they returned to their
own camp. The snow was a bad omen. Jordan grimly acknowledged that it could
ruin the entire mission. Pablo, on the other hand, was elated. He baited

Jordan: "With this thy offensive goes,